The Impact of Moral Intensity and Inconsistent Ethical Tone on Policy Compliance

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 Last revised: 3 Aug 2017

See all articles by Robert Crossler

Robert Crossler

Washington State University - Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship (MISE)

James H. Long

Auburn University - Raymond J. Harbert College of Business - School of Accountancy

Tina M. Loraas

Auburn University

Brad S. Trinkle

Mississippi State University - School of Accountancy

Date Written: June 15, 2017

Abstract

This study examines the impact of moral intensity and inconsistent ethical tone on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy compliance. Organizations use BYOD policies to address the heightened risks of data and privacy breaches that arise when employees use their personal devices to access or store company data. These policies are a key part of an organization’s system of internal controls that protect organizational assets by prescribing appropriate behavior for individuals who have access to them. We conducted an online experiment to evaluate: (1) how the moral intensity of a policy compliance decision influences policy compliance behavior, (2) the efficacy of an intervention designed to increase moral intensity and thus foster compliance, and (3) how an inconsistent ethical tone affects both the perceived ethicality of a policy compliance decision and individuals’ intentions to comply with the policy. We find that moral intensity is positively related to policy compliance, and that a simple intervention effectively fosters policy compliance through its impact on moral intensity. Furthermore, we provide evidence that an inconsistent ethical tone erodes policy compliance intentions, and can spill over to affect another work-related behavior. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications.

Keywords: Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, policy compliance intentions, ethical decisions, moral intensity, ethical tone consistency, inconsistent ethical tone, tone at the top, tone at the bottom

Suggested Citation

Crossler, Robert and Long, James H. and Loraas, Tina M. and Trinkle, Brad S., The Impact of Moral Intensity and Inconsistent Ethical Tone on Policy Compliance (June 15, 2017). Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 31 (2):49-64, 2016 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2767236

Robert Crossler

Washington State University - Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship (MISE) ( email )

Todd Hall 442
PO Box 644743
Pullman, WA 99164-4743
United States

James H. Long

Auburn University - Raymond J. Harbert College of Business - School of Accountancy ( email )

301 Lowder Hall
405 West Magnolia Avenue
Auburn University, AL 36849
United States
(334) 844-6214 (Phone)
(334) 844-5875 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://jameshlong.com

Tina M. Loraas (Contact Author)

Auburn University ( email )

415 West Magnolia Avenue
Auburn, AL 36849
United States

Brad S. Trinkle

Mississippi State University - School of Accountancy ( email )

Mississippi State, MS 39762
United States

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